AFM 2010 Wrap-Up! The Sights! The Sounds! The Scares!
With hundreds of films screened every year, the American Film Market is the best place to check out all the up-and-comers, and AFM 2010 had a record number of horror movies from across the globe. As always, Dread Central camped out for a week-long marathon of indie and foreign fright flicks, and we've got a big batch of mini-reviews to help you know what to look for and what to avoid in the coming months.
IRON DOORS 3D
A douchebag in a business suit wakes up in a mysterious vault with no memory of how he got there. At first he thinks it’s a prank but after several days comes to the horrible realization that no one is coming to help. With no food or water and only a few random implements at his disposal, he must find a way out before he starves to death.
Irons Doors is Saw meets Cube only without the live-or-die machinations. It’s a fairly effective and stylish slice of low-budget claustrophobia that works well with an ambiguous Twilight Zone-ish “what would you do?” scenario. Despite a weak and completely random ending, it flies by at a briskly paced 80 minutes.
The post-conversion 3D is solid but doesn’t really add much, especially considering the film will probably be limited to festivals and home video.
3 out of 5
BURKE AND HARE
John Landis’ highly anticipated black comedy about two 19th Century grave robbers (Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis) who find that stealing cadavers and selling them to medical science is their quick ticket out of the slums. But when the corpse supply runs low, these two bumbling entrepreneurs have to find a way to speed up the town’s mortality rate.
There are several moments in Burke and Hare that are damn funny, but considering the talent involved, the results could’ve been a helluva lot better. Most of the humor is obvious, and even with this great ensemble the characters don’t make much of an impression beyond giving us a few chuckles. For period-based grave robbing humor, you’re much better off with I Sell the Dead.
2 1/2 out of 5
DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT
Based on the Italian comic series, Dylan Dog (Brandon Routh) is a private investigator in New Orleans, where he regularly contends with all the creatures of the night. Vampires, werewolves and zombies are just a few of the things running around the underworld, and one of them murders his partner (who promptly rises from the dead as Dylan’s undead sidekick). Together, the pair must stop one of those pesky end-of-the-world prophecies.
Maybe Dylan Dog: Dead of Night would’ve passed as a better-than-average Syfy Channel Original Movie, but as a theatrical film it’s pretty bland stuff. The watered down PG-13 approach makes for limp action sequences, and the direction lacks any sense of excitement or atmosphere. For a film that promises to be a monster mash, there’s not a whole lot of creativity beyond the occasional funny gag. Routh is pretty good as the title character, but the rest is DOA.
2 out of 5
I SAW THE DEVIL
The director of A Tale of Two Sisters brings us an epic cross between a serial killer movie and a revenge flick! Oldboy star Choi Min-sik plays a brutal psychopath who roams the countryside dicing up young women. But when his wife falls victim, a secret service agent (Lee Byung-hun from J.S.A.: Joint Security Area) sets out to find the killer and make him pay at any cost, starting a savage cat-and-mouse game. But not in the way you would expect.
I Saw the Devil is a perfect example of the kind of unapologetic, take-no-prisoners filmmaking that South Korea has become famous for. This is a super kinetic thrill ride that combines hardcore brutality, intense “holy fuck!” setpieces and a whole lot of moral ambiguity, making it the finest serial killer flick since David Fincher’s Se7en. While it strains logic in a few spots, the flick is so amazingly shot, acted and paced that it’s impossible not get swept up in the mayhem. Just like Oldboy, this is a shocker that people will be talking about for a long time. See it before it gets remade!
4 1/2 out of 5